MONTGOMERY — Republicans took the first step Wednesday in removing the executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association from the board that oversees the state pension system for education employees.
The Senate Education Committee voted 4-3 Wednesday to approve a bill by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen, of Tuscaloosa.
It removes AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry and one school support employee from the Teachers Retirement System board and replaces them with two members elected by higher education employees. The bill passed with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing it.
“Is this another stab at killing AEA,” Democratic Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, of Mobile, asked.
“No, ma’am,” Allen said.
“It sounds like it,” Figures replied.
Allen said 34,000 university employees have no representation on the pension board, and his bill gives them a voice.
Figures said she would support adding higher education representatives without removing any existing members.
In addition to removing Mabry, Allen’s bill ends the practice of all education employees voting for all elected members of the board.
Under his bill, each group that has a seat on the board would only vote for that seat. For instance, only principals would vote for the person who fills the seat allocated for a principal.
Allen’s bill comes two weeks after the Republican majority in the Legislature pushed through a bill opposed by AEA.
That bill provides tax credits for parents who choose to send their children to private schools rather than public schools rated as failing.
AEA represents school teachers and other school employees and was closely aligned with Democrats who controlled the Legislature until Republicans won a majority in 2010.
AEA members still fill many seats on the State Democratic Executive Committee.
Allen’s bill now goes to the Senate, where he predicted the Republican majority will make sure it passes.
Voting for the bill in committee, in addition to Allen, were Republicans Bill Holtzclaw of Madison, Del Marsh of Anniston and Shadrack McGill of Scottsboro. Voting against it were Democrats Figures, Quinton Ross of Montgomery and Hank Sanders of Selma. Abstaining were Republicans Dick Brewbaker of Montgomery and Trip Pittman of Daphne.
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